By LeAnn R. Ralph
TOWN OF OTTER CREEK — The Otter Creek Town Board has approved a nonmetallic mining ordinance.
The four-page ordinance, along with a multiple-page mining application and permit form, were approved at the Otter Creek Town Board’s February 12 meeting.
The intent of the ordinance, noted Mark Warner, town chair, is to protect the health, safety and welfare of township residents.
The Town of Otter Creek approved a mining moratorium several months ago that was put into effect until April 9, but the moratorium will expire upon the official publication of the ordinance.
Although no frac sand mining companies have been prospecting in the Town of Otter Creek — at least not to the knowledge of the town board — multiple frac sand mines are operating not far away in Chippewa County.
The non-metallic mining ordinance, and the application and permit form, were drafted for the Town of Otter Creek by Glenn Stoddard of Eau Claire, the attorney who wrote the ordinance for the Town of Cooks Valley that was upheld last year by the state Supreme Court.
According to the ordinance, the Otter Creek Town Board will be the sole determining body of whether to issue a mining permit after the town board has held a public hearing.
The ordinance states, “the Town Board shall grant the permit, either with or without conditions, if it is determined that the development and operation of the nonmetallic mine is in the best interests of the citizens of the Town, and will be consistent with the protection of public health, safety and general welfare.”
Otter Creek’s nonmetallic mining ordinance requires an application fee of $500.
The ordinance also stipulates that the applicant will pay for all legal services and expert consulting expenses incurred by the Town of Otter Creek as part of the review and for the processing of the nonmetallic mining application.
After the town clerk has received the application fee and the application, a copy of the application will be mailed to all adjoining landowners with the date and time of the next town board meeting.
The town board will have 90 days after determining that the application is complete to make a decision on whether to issue a permit for the mining operation.
Conditions that could be set by the town board include financial security for town road repair and mine reclamation, restrictions on hours of operation, restrictions on truck traffic and volume into and out of the mine site; protection of groundwater quantity and quality; restrictions to protect public and private drinking and agricultural wells; restrictions to control air emissions and dust.
A permit is not required for a pre-existing nonmetallic mine, although if the mine is expanded after the effective date of the ordinance and requires a reclamation permit from Dunn County, the expansion will be subject to the permitting requirements of the Otter Creek ordinance.
The ordinance also stipulates a fine of $2,000 per day for every day in violation of the ordinance, plus the township’s attorney’s fees to prosecute each violation.
The Town of Otter Creek’s nonmetallic mining ordinance was unanimously approved by the Otter Creek Town Board and will go into effect upon publication in the February 20 edition of the Colfax Messenger.
The Town of Otter Creek’s application form for a nonmetallic mining permit includes questions about the type of mine, uses for the mined materials, depth of the mine, whether the mine will extend into the groundwater, total acres, whether explosives will be used, whether the mine site will include a high-capacity well, number of employees, hours of operation, amount of truck traffic, dust control methods and what town or county roads will be used for a haul route.
The application form also asks for information on the impact on natural resources such as timber, surface water, ground water, air quality, noise pollution, plants, wildlife and fish habitat.
In addition, the application asks for information on the schedule and method for monitoring wells within a quarter mile of the mine, the erosion control practices that will be used, measures that will be used to screen the mine operation from view, and for information about reclamation of the mine site.